Billings Gazette Calls Out Greg Gianforte. It’s Past Time for Some Answers

The Billings Gazette editorial page has called out gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte for his refusal to answer questions about how he will govern if elected, and especially how his religious views will influence how he decides. They note, as others have for months, that Mr. Gianforte has defined himself by his religious views and business success, but now that he is a candidate for governor, he’s become very silent about the former—and incredibly vague about the latter.

Mr. Gianforte’s views will have profound implications for Montana if he’s able to buy the governor’s chair. His endorsement of discriminatory government policies could crush Montana’s tourist and tech growth, his endorsement of private schools at the expense of public education could damage our excellent education results, and his likely elevation of people like those associated with the Montana Family Foundation to important roles in government will harms the civil rights of Montanans all across the state.

Let me be clear: Mr. Gianforte can be a bigot in own life and fund reactionary groups like the MFF with his personal funds. No one questions that. What he shouldn’t be able to do, however, is run for governor without answering hard questions about how those personal views will affect the way he’d govern. So far, the media has largely let him get away with it, and this editorial offers the promise that the kid gloves protecting the tech billionaire might finally be coming off.

What the editorial doesn’t touch on is the disingenuous game Gianforte and his supporters are claiming, and will continue to claim during the campaign: that questions about his religious views are rooted in bigotry against Christians. For the vast, vast majority of his critics, that’s a totally unfair claim. Mr. Gianforte is entitled to his religious beliefs, just as everyone is. Questioning how those beliefs will influence his policy decisions as governor is certainly fair, because we know the economic impacts of the state endorsing discrimination, just to give one example, would be devastating, and more importantly, that the state endorsing discrimination is wrong.

Of course, the real challenge in this editorial isn’t for Greg Gianforte. It’s for the press, which has covered his self-promotional tour for months, without demanding that the boy who would be king answer any questions. Near its conclusion, the Gazette editorial concludes “that’s why residents, voters and the media cannot let Gianforte simply take a pass by not answering questions about his beliefs.” I’d like to think that means no more fawning coverage when Mr. Gianforte comes to Billings and makes vague economic promises.

Time will tell.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • I have a feeling Gianforte will continue on as he is, and there’s little you can do about that, Don. Oh, you can get yourself in a huff, but I doubt Motl is going to demand anything of Gianforte. More, I don’t think the majority of Montanans care about what you’ve listed here as concerns. Actually, I think many of them don’t mind those things.

    Remember, Montana is a Republican state. We see that when we see election maps with all that red showing.

    I’m not sure Democrats will be able to get out the vote in their urban strongholds, at least enough to counter all the Republicans in rural areas. I’m not confident in that at all, at least from what I saw in 2014 here in MIssoula, and the numbers Missoula put up for turnout. Sure, that’s an off year, but I’m still not confident.

    I feel the Montana press, in not demanding things of Gianforte, is probably playing it smart. After all, what do you do when you demand something and it doesn’t come about? You look rather foolish.

    Overall, about 11 days to filing and I’m sure Gianforte will be a candidate then. I feel that Democrats, however, won’t be any closer to having a viable strategy to defeat him.

    Personally, I don’t think it matters if Gianforte or Bullock gets in. My life will be the same this time next year.

    • The Democrats should probably call you. I mean, I don’t know if the party has someone on staff who can analyze facial expressions in photographs nearly as well as you can. That kind of keen political insight is really missing in Montana politics, as is the assessment that it won’t make any difference which of the two likely candidates wins. That’s gold.

      I encourage everyone to visit your site and get the good stuff on Montana politics. What’s the point of reading what anyone else has to say, really?

      • Thanks, Don. I appreciate the shout out for people to visit Big Sky Words. Just yesterday I put up a post about 20 bills needed in the 2017 session and I’m sure people will find that useful. The day before that we put up a list of 2016 dates to keep in mind.

        Good stuff to be aware of.

        • To be clear, I’m sure that post is better than any other post that has been written about Montana politics by any person, ever, but I really want people to read this one:

          They could rely on the Gazette or my admittedly poor analysis, but neither of us gets to the beating heart of Montana politics like you do. Where else could someone expect this kind of trenchant analysis:

          “I like this photo because you can see a lot. For instance, look at all that free food behind Gianforte.”

          Certainly not here.

          • Got about 300 views on that in a day. I was pretty happy.

            I’m sure Gianforte and Flint were happy as well.

            Since it got so many views, and since I know people liked that post, I’ll probably put up similar.

            Now, the 20 bills post and the 2016 dates post, well, those only got about 60 views in a day.

            So that tells me something. It tells me people don’t really care about policy and procedure.

            They want drama, intrigue, and speculation.

            I give it to ’em, and I’m proud of that. When you know what your audience wants and you deliver it on a consistent basis, that’s what we call a good job when it comes to blogging.

    • Greg, don’t assume your speaking for other Montana’s because your not. The people I know in this state Republicans, and Democrats feel this man and his ideas are repugnant at best.

  • If the media is going to ask Gianforte questions on his religious beliefs then it is only fair to do the same of Bullock. They can begin by asking Bullock about his personal and religious views on
    adultery and specifically the ethical implications of an elected official having an affair with a member of his staff or cabinet. Bullock used to list Roman Catholic as his religion but more recently stated he is a member of the liberal United Church of Christ affiliated Plymouth Congregational Church. Catholics tend to be pretty strict on the adultery issue. Does Bullock feel the more liberal UCC offers a philandering politician more leeway?

    In much discussed interviews and editorials, Montana journalists politely but unsuccessfully sought out answers to the constantly changing excuses Bullock offered as he danced around the root cause of the hostile relationship between him and his former Lt Governor Angela McLean. Answers to what McLean may have discovered about the Governor and the criteria he uses to appoint people to key positions would have helped voters understand how Bullock governs.

    Just as Democrats want Gianforte to answer hard questions on how his personal and religious views will influence his political and ethical decisions as governor, Bullock should let Montana voters know how his personal and religious views would influence (or have influenced) his decision making on how he handles state affairs.

    To paraphrase Don, questioning how those beliefs will influence his policy decisions as governor is certainly fair, because we know the ethical and legal impacts of the state endorsing office misconduct, just to give one example, would be devastating, and more importantly, that the state endorsing sexual misconduct by its Governor is wrong.

    • Jeebus, dude. What are you, some kinda weirdo? That is a really, really strange post. BTW, no one really CARES what you think about Catholics or adultery. Hey, I have a great idea. Why don’t you aks giantfart if he ever fooled around, like 90% of Americans do? BTW, I was RAISED Catholic, and I’m old. I remember the days when we tried to date the girls from the all girl Catholic high schools, for they were the horniest! God made us Catholic, but human nature made us horny! That don’t necessarily make us bad Catholics.

  • Larry, let me spell it out. It’s a problem for any governor if he is having an affair with one of his staffers or appointees. That is why the media has been so persistent in questioning Bullock on the cause of the hostilities between him and McLean. They have been told by numerous sources it started when McLean “discovered” the Governor’s affair with one of his cabinet members. Bullock tried to duck the issue by dumping on Angela, calling her “hostile” and “difficult to work with” which many of McLean’s supporters and good friends view as insulting and sexist attacks on a respected and capable political figure. The also view it as Bullock throwing Angela to the dogs to cover his ass to hide his affair. Angela’s friends aren’t happy with Bullock and have been talking to the media. Dennison and a few other reporters are simply waiting until one of them is willing to go on the record. So if we are going to question Gianforte’s ethics and religious views, let’s do the same and ask Bullock questions on his ethics and beliefs.

    • You know what’s sleazy? Without any evidence casting aspersions about a person’s marriage and family to score political points. I know Republicans–especially those who shed crocodile tears about women’s rights–can’t be expected to act honorably, but this attack on Bullock is reprehensible.

      You should be ashamed of yourself.

      • That’s a complete falsehood. Show me where, in over ten years of writing on this site, that I have ever done what Pogo Possum did here or you have done at your site.

        I’ve heard plenty of rumors, but have never written about any of them without evidence.

  • Don, you have indulged in rumors and speculation for years and you don’t appear to have any major problem with the Cow Girls who brag that they indulge in rumor, gossip, speculation in their vicious attacks on there targets. You and the Cow Girls have your sources and I have mine. So if you want the media to ask Gianforte questions about his religious beliefs and ethics then they should ask the same of Bullock.

  • Here is a brief trip down memory lane:

    “There have long been RUMORS about Senator Ryan Zinke’s tendency to both exaggerate his role as a Navy SEAL and to underplay the serious ethical violations that derailed his career….” – Don Pogreba

    “Do the Lee Papers Hate Asian-Americans? Is there something in the makeup of Asian-Americans that puts a burr under the saddle of Lee management? It seems ridiculous on its face, but as “some” have posited, the very lack of information explaining why Lee has no Asian-American editors in Montana fans SPECULATION.” – Don Pogrega

    “Another aspect of the story that I SPECULATED about back in August was that there’s clearly something in the records that hurt Zinke’s military advancement.”

  • “I’m hearing RUMORS that Rob Natelson is polling for a 2012 Senate run. It’s hard to give the rumors much credence, given Natelson’s move to Colorado, but given Representative Rehberg’s very recent change of heart into “a fiscal conservative” from being the House’s Pork King and potential vulnerability in the TEA Party, it’s probably hard to discount the RUMORS entirely.” Don Pogreba

    “RUMOR Has It HB 456 Is Getting the Brand” – Don Pogreba

    “Let’s take a look at the Democratic bench, too. Representative Byrce Bennett (29) and Jesse Laslovich (33) are both RUMORED to be weighing statewide runs in 2016″ ……………”Tom Hanel, the mayor of Billings, RUMORED GOP gubernatorial candidate, and gray hair voted against equality” – Don Pogreba

  • “Another aspect of the story that I SPECULATED about back in August was that there’s clearly something in the records that hurt Zinke’s military advancement.”

    “Big Burns RUMOR (and Mercer resigns)……..Nothing really new in the RUMOR. It has Rehberg running for Burns’ seat, and John “Suddenly Now I Love Education” Mercer running in the House race. – Don Pogreba

    “Why is Ryan Zinke Hiding His Military Records? Because He Has Something to Hide”………”There’s only one answer: the record contains something so damaging that Zinke isn’t willing to let us see it,” – Don Pogreba

    “Another aspect of the story that I SPECULATED about back in August was that there’s clearly something in the records that hurt Zinke’s military advancement.” – Don Pogreba

    “RUMOR has it that the Independent Record will once again be looking for a new managing editor,” – Don Pogreba

    • You’re reaching. To equate rumors about politics with the sad, repulsive spectacle of Republican rumor mongering in this case is absurd.

      It shows the true nature of the “family values” conservative mind.

      • Don, I think the main problem is that you’re a hypocrite. When that’s pointed out in an obvious way, instead of saying, ‘alright, you got me,’ you continue to make excuses. That’s verging on the pathetic.

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